To be ‘indie’ you don’t need to be free of a publisher; you must simply not let them rein in your creativity and your love.
To become ‘indie’ you can’t simply abandon a publisher; you must create games because of the love inside of you.
Fine, okay, maybe that’s the wrong word. Maybe I’m defining something else. Something better?
But when I think about what is ‘indie’ and what isn’t, this is what always comes to my mind (even if I’ve always had trouble putting words to it).
When a game is created, the forces behind its creation must be powered by the desire to create a game — this game. The more external forces that drive the creation of a game, the less ‘indie’ it can possibly be in my mind.
Have a publisher? That’s fine. Let the publisher make suggestions? If those suggestions are out of genuinely wanting to help the game, there’s nothing wrong with it. If the suggestions exist to make the game more marketable or more accessible, things get fuzzy. (To me.)
Making a game because you’re short on cash and because you’re good at making games? That’s fine, unless you make a game without any love and all you’re aiming to do with it is make money.
I don’t think I’m defining indie any more.
Maybe I’m defining “game designer who I can respect”.
If you think I’m being too harsh that’s okay because this is pretty much the one thing I feel most strongly about, second only to “don’t be a dick”.